U.S.-China Tourism Program Thrives Amid International Uncertainty

UNWTO October 2020 Newsletter

Tensions in U.S.-China relations might suggest that a flourishing partnership between a university in the USA and another in Wuhan, China just isn’t possible. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In 2016, Colorado State University’s Master of Tourism Management-China (MTM-China) program was launched in partnership with Central China Normal University (CCNU) in the city of Wuhan. Since that time, natural resource tourism students and faculty along with administrators from both universities have defied expectations by collaborating to co-create extraordinary opportunities in teaching, research, and cultural exchange.

In its first year, MTM-China had just 12 students, but nearly 60 applications were submitted for the current semester, and the 100th student is set to graduate this year. Instructional innovations like field trips, remote learning options, and conference visits prepare future leaders to manage ongoing, broader shifts in Chinese tourism. Those shifts, including the launch of China’s new

National Park System this year, have also encouraged collaborators to explore the possibility of creating new educational opportunities tied to park management.

Amid ongoing concerns over pandemics, politics, and trade, onlookers around the world have every reason to consider the U.S.-China relationship strained at best. Yet when COVID-19 began to hit the U.S. hard in April, over twenty MTM-China students joined CCNU faculty in raising ~6,000 USD to ship thousands of masks and gloves to their peers and colleagues at Colorado State University. With so little news on positive interactions involving organizations in the two countries, the MTM-China program represents a beacon of promise, suggesting that U.S.-China collaboration is not only possible, but also – if one looks closely enough – thriving.